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US jobs: How spouses of H-1B visa holders can look for employment? 5 points

The big American dream continues to inspire many of us, but a big minus for US H-1B visa holders is the fact that their spouses have to go through extreme hardship to find a job, even if they are highly skilled. 

A recent study has claimed only 27% married immigrants in the US who have at least a bachelor’s degree and hold a temporary dependent visa are employed. “Those temporary dependent visa holders, many of whom hold an H-4 visa, are overwhelmingly female (90%) and predominately from India (67%). The majority have their highest degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field),” National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) study said

Here is how to find jobs if you have US H4 (dependent) visa:

  • H-4 spouses may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) after their H-1B spouse is in the queue for a permanent visa. That typically does not occur until the H-1B has worked in the United States for several years
  • It typically takes 6-8 months for employment authorization to actually be granted after an application is submitted. 
  • Following that, H-4 spouses with an EAD can work for any employer, which enables them to find a match for their skills
  • However, many of the H-4 spouses don’t want to wait that long and they prefer to get their H-1B visas. In that case, they first find an employer who is willing to bear the high application cost and uncertainty associated with the H-1B process and whose job generally matches the H-4 visa holder’s education and skills. 
  • Once that hurdle has been cleared, the H-4 visa holder must be selected in the H-1B lottery, which only occurs once a year and has low odds of success. However, if they are selected then they are legally entitled to work there.

NFAP study has, however, warned that if the US does not relax its restrictive policies then they soon might start losing skilled professionals to Canada, which grants work authorisation to spouses of all skilled foreign workers

It further pointed out that the US economy can reap significant benefits and attract more workers in the global competition if it starts expanding the current rules on work eligibility for the spouses of H-1B visa holders.

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